Kirklees Light Railway
Both 0-6-2ST Badger and 2-4-2 Katie rest, side by side, at Shelley station
LocaleWest Yorkshire, England
TerminusClayton West
Coordinates53°35′49″N 1°36′43″W / 53.597°N 1.612°W / 53.597; -1.612Coordinates: 53°35′49″N 1°36′43″W / 53.597°N 1.612°W / 53.597; -1.612
Commercial operations
NameLancashire and Yorkshire Railway Clayton West branch
Built byLancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Original gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Length3+12 miles (5.6 km)
Preserved gauge15 in (381 mm)[1]
Commercial history
Opened1 September 1879
Closed24 January 1983[2]
Preservation history
19 October 1991opened[3]
26 December 1992extended to Skelmanthorpe
May 1997extended to Shelley Woodhouse
KLR Adult return ticket
KLR Adult return ticket

The Kirklees Light Railway is a 3+12-mile (5.6 km) long 15 in (381 mm) gauge minimum gauge railway in Kirklees metropolitan borough, West Yorkshire, Northern England.

First opened on 19 October 1991, the KLR runs along the trackbed of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway's now long closed/former branch line, from the village of Clayton West via Skelmanthorpe to the village Shelley Woodhouse (a few yards close to the former Clayton West Junction[4] 12 mile (0.8 km), near Shepley) on the Penistone Line from Huddersfield to Sheffield, (via Penistone and Barnsley).


The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway opened their branch line from Clayton West Junction to Clayton West on 1 September 1879.[5] The branch line was built with bridges, tunnels and earthworks suitable for a double line in case of a proposed extension to reach Darton on the Dewsbury to Barnsley Line, but only one line was ever laid and despite attempts to extend the railway, Clayton West was to remain as a terminus.[6]

The line survived the Beeching cuts in large part thanks to the mineral traffic generated by the collieries at the terminus (Park Mill) and at Skelmanthorpe (Emley Moor),[7] but was sadly not adopted by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive unlike nearly all other passenger lines in West Yorkshire[8] and was closed to passengers on 24 January 1983. Coal was still transhipped from Emley Moor Colliery to Elland power station until 1984[9] and tracklifting of the branch was completed in 1986.[10]

Construction of the minimum gauge railway started in mid-summer 1990, following a joint application for a Light Railway Order between Kirklees Council and the Kirklees Light Railway Company on 22 February 1989. Construction was aided significantly by the amount of redundant materials available from a number of collieries in the area which were slowly beginning to end their mining operations. The Light Railway Order was finally granted on 27 September 1991.[11]

The line was originally 1 mile (1.6 km) in length running from Clayton West station to a specially constructed halt called Cuckoos Nest. This name is historic to 15 inch gauge railways as a station on the Eaton Hall Railway, near Chester, built by Sir Arthur Heywood bore the name. Trains to Cuckoo's Nest commenced running on Saturday 19 October 1991. The KLR was later extended to Skelmanthorpe in 1992 and again to a station at Shelley in 1996/7 with a grant from ERDF for the regeneration of coal mining areas.

The journey gives fine views of the Grade II listed Emley Moor transmitting station, passes through the ancient woodland of Blacker Wood which is mentioned in the Domesday Book and includes a trip through the 511 yards (467 m) long Shelley Woodhouse Tunnel,[12] the longest tunnel on any 15 in (381 mm) gauge line in Britain.[13]

The original line as built was 3+12 miles (5.6 km),[14] but upon reopening as the Kirklees light railway, the line is short of the former Clayton West Junction on the Penistone Line and the length of the light railway is 3.04 miles (4.89 km).[15]

Christmas Celebrations

Every year, in December, they do a Santa Special, in which people (mostly families with children), board the train, and then a man, dressed as Santa Claus, gives children presents.[16]

Stations of the KLR


All the locomotives used on the railway were built by the railway's founder Brian Taylor. They have all benefited from the application of modern steam principles advocated by Livio Dante Porta. These modifications have improved the locomotives' performance, reliability and efficiency.

Steam locomotives

The following are approximately half size narrow gauge locomotives:

Name Design    Type    Date Notes
Fox Hunslet 2-6-2T 1987 Fox recently finished a lengthy and large overhaul which took 5 years. Based on a 2-6-4T built by the Hunslet Engine Company for export to India.
Badger Kerr Stuart 0-6-4ST 1991 A freelance locomotive with leanings to Kerr Stuarts Tattoo Class contractors locomotives. Perhaps best described as what the NWNGR's locomotive Beddgelert might have looked like if Kerr Stuart had built it!
Hawk Kitson Meyer 0-4-0+0-4-0T 1998 In traffic for weekend services and special events. Based on a 2 ft 5 in (737 mm) gauge Kitson Meyer built by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. for export to Chile
Owl[17] Avonside Engine Company/Heisler locomotive 0-4-0+0-4-0TG 2000 In traffic for weekend services and special events.
Katie Guest Engineering 2-4-2 1954 newest engine
Sian Guest Engineering 2-4-2 1963 sister engine to Katie

Diesel locomotive

Petrol locomotives



  1. ^ "Kirklees Light Railway 15 Inch". UK Miniature Railway world. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Clayton West Branch". Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Kirklees Light Railway celebrates 21st anniversary with a ride for each year". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Boiler incident on the Kirklees Light Railway 3 July 2011" (PDF). Department of Transport. Rail Accident Investigation Branch. March 2012. p. 7. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  5. ^ Marshall, John (1970). The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Volume 2. Newton Abbott: David & Charles. p. 116. ISBN 0-7153-4906-6.
  6. ^ Young, Alan (2015). Lost Stations of Yorkshire;The West Riding. Kettering: Silver Link. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-85794-438-9.
  7. ^ Shannon, Paul (2006). Railfreight since 1968: Coal. Kettering: Silver Link Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 1-85794-263-9.
  8. ^ Speakman, Colin (1985). Ten Years of Achievement. West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive. ISBN 0-9510201-0-2.
  9. ^ Shannon, Paul (June 2009). "How King Coal lost his Throne". Railways Illustrated. Vol. 7 no. 6. p. 12. ISSN 1479-2230.
  10. ^ Catford, Nick. "Skelmanthorpe". Disused Stations. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  11. ^ Young, Alan (2015). Lost Stations of Yorkshire;The West Riding. Kettering: Silver Link. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-85794-438-9.
  12. ^ "Railway Ramblers Kirklees". 2004. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
  13. ^ Earnshaw, Alan (1993). The Kirklees Light Railway. Shepley: Transpennine Publications. p. 20. ISBN 0-9521070-0-7.
  14. ^ Earnshaw, Alan (1992). The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. Shepperton: Ian Allan. pp. 116–117. ISBN 0711020582.
  15. ^ Jacobs, Gerald (2006). Railway Track Diagrams - Eastern. Bradford-On-Avon: Trackmaps. p. 40. ISBN 9780954986629.
  16. ^ "Santa Specials". December 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  17. ^ a b c "Locomotives - Meet the Engines". Kirklees Light Railway. Retrieved 15 March 2016.